The extremophile Nicotiana benthamiana has traded viral defence for early vigour

Bally, Julia, Nakasugi, Kenlee, Jia, Fangzhi, Jung, Hyungtaek, Ho, Simon Y.W., Wong, Mei, Paul, Chloe M., Naim, Fatima, Wood, Craig C., Crowhurst, Ross N., Hellens, Roger P., Dale, James L., & Waterhouse, Peter M. (2015) The extremophile Nicotiana benthamiana has traded viral defence for early vigour. Nature Plants, 1, Article number: 15165.

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A single lineage of Nicotiana benthamiana is widely used as a model plant1 and has been instrumental in making revolutionary discoveries about RNA interference (RNAi), viral defence and vaccine production. It is peerless in its susceptibility to viruses and its amenability in transiently expressing transgenes2,3. These unparalleled characteristics have been associated both positively and negatively with a disruptive insertion in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 1 gene, Rdr14–6. For a plant so routinely used in research, the origin, diversity and evolution of the species, and the basis of its unusual abilities, have been relatively unexplored. Here, by comparison with wild accessions from across the spectrum of the species’ natural distribution, we show that the laboratory strain of N. benthamiana is an extremophile originating from a population that has retained a mutation in Rdr1 for ∼0.8 Myr and thereby traded its defence capacity for early vigour and survival in the extreme habitat of central Australia. Reconstituting Rdr1 activity in this isolate provided protection. Silencing the functional allele in a wild strain rendered it hypersusceptible and was associated with a doubling of seed size and enhanced early growth rate. These findings open the way to a deeper understanding of the delicate balance between protection and vigour.

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5 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 92883
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: extremophile, Nicotiana benthamiana, early vigour, RNA interference, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 1 gene
DOI: 10.1038/NPLANTS.2015.165
ISSN: 2055-0278
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > TECHNOLOGY (100000) > AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY (100100)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities
Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 18 Feb 2016 23:15
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2016 22:24

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